I’ve blogged a lot in the past about a whole load of things, but this is the first time I’ve tried to write consistently about something I only really care about recreationally.
Following sports is often mocked by my peers - I’m a geek after all - and horse racing in particular is sometimes called a trivial diversion, even by those who love it. Sports analytics has started to become a major industry, but I don’t work in it. Probability theory has an aura of academic respectability but whilst I have a B.Eng, it’s not in maths and I have never published a paper.
It seems then that starting a blog in this area is a bit of a diversion. Maybe it is.
I’ve written about politics in the distant past, but starting a politics blog in the UK in 2019 is unlikely to serve anybody wisely, least of all myself.
My day job is in the software development game. I seem to know something about it that others value, but I have no interest in writing about it as much as I once did.
When deciding on a new writing venture then, I went back and forth and ended up here. The about page touches on a few things, but in this post, I thought I’d flesh out some ideas I plan to develop in weeks to come.
I have opinions, and I’ll often share them, but I try and inform them with data. That seems to be become more and more popular, but there is seemingly a dearth of good content out there on it. Topics I can immediately think of that need better treatment:
- Actually understanding a sport from a tactical and strategic throughput
- Obtaining data is tricky, and most people try to keep it a secret. I plan to publish some tools as I go, but also look at the value of commercial offerings from PA, Opta and others
- Reviews of books and academic papers on analysis methods
- Popular metrics and what they tell us about sports performance
- Write-ups of events that seem to be emerging if I can get to them
- Data science and machine learning techniques and how they apply to sports analysis
Probability & Gambling Theory
Probability is a remarkably young branch of mathematics. It’s not obvious to me that most people who gamble regularly actually understand it. When academics come near this with a view to making money, they are either derided or have to find a way to position their work to the more “grown up” industry of commodity or stock markets.
This is ripe for analysis, but so is just basic numeracy. If somebody tells you have a horse is 17/2 and the book is 110% over-round, do you know what the market is saying about that horse’s true chances? Not many will, but I’d argue everybody should start to get a sense of this.
Topics then might include:
- Academic paper and book reviews around gambling and probability theory I think is relevant
- Analysis of how those theories apply to real-World markets
- Maybe some tools and libraries that can be incorporated into your own portfolios
The Business of Sport
Whilst most of the interesting things that happen in sport are on the field/track, there is considerable impact on those events from ownership, coaching, sporting authorities and rule changes.
This all has the potential to create new opportunities for analysis, however if you’re like me you might over or under estimate the impacts of what’s going on.
Subjects that come to my mind include:
- Analysis of teams and ownership
- Coaching impacts - when coaching changes, what impact does that have on performance?
- Transfer market (or equivalent) analysis
Major Events Reviews & Previews
I have no interest in running a tipping blog or filling up screens with revisionist history, so I have no plans to fill this blog with write-ups every day or even every week, but I can see in the future writing up the odd word or thousand about forthcoming major events and then coming back to see how well my analysis stood up.
I am sure I will find topics come up that don’t hit this list. I’m going to enjoy seeing how the content matter evolves. I’m going to write what I enjoy writing, but if you would like to see more or less of a particular topic, I’d encourage you to reach out on twitter and give me feedback.